Dame Janet Baker (1933)

barThis is the first time I write an entry in E, so that, it’s very difficult with me but I think I should try , it’s the good way to improve writing skill, improve my vocabulary and my expression. So, all of my dear friends, plz help me correct Many(!) mistakes that I have. Thanks much!


I have to say that, I dont like English much, I even think that E is the worst language for singing (it’s make the voice uglier , and the sound thinner, and more ridiculous), it’s not the beautiful amd clear language for music as Italian, Spanish and worse much than havier language as German, Russian, or thinner and nasality as French – all main language for classical singing. Therefore, I have not many favorite US-UK-AUS classical singer. I can show a few names: Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, Marilyn Horne, Janet Baker, Kathleen Ferrier, Kiri Te kanawa, many black, colored sopranos, mezzo and several baritones (Bryn Terfel, Sherill Milnes, for examples), but of course, no tenor, and no prima donna from UK. They’re all so terrible!

With a mass of audience, the greateast classical singer in UK is legendary contralto Kathleen Ferrier – one of the greatest contralto in the history. Yes, she’s my favourite singer too, but with me , the type of voice and singing of Dame Janet Baker, another great mezzo-contralto in UK, is near with me than Kathleen. In the field of low female voices (mezzo and contralto), Janet’s voice is may not as dark, powerful and colorful in timbre as many Russian mezzo, contralto like Soviet People’s Artist Elena Obraztsova (the mezzo whom I love best), her vocal technic in coloratura roles is not as good as Marilyn Horne, or Teresa Berganza, sometimes strained highnotes with rapid vibrato would be not plaeasant to your ears. She is not really attractive woman too, and her acting is not quite well (if u were fan of Agnes Baltsa, Regina Resnik, Risë Stevens and many mezzo from US, u’ll know that). So that on opera stage, but in Chamber music, it’s not better than. She was overshadowed by her great patriot, Kathleen Ferrier, and even, some younger artist like Von Otter is more famous and has numerous records, recital than her.

Though that, Janet Baker is one of the most beloved singers. I find her voice a little “dry”, (with me, it’s rather “dry” than “wet” and that’s why , I like Sutherland than Sills, hehe), but it’s beautiful, elegant, exactly with intelligent processing and have a little sentiment. She’s quite charming in Chamber music too, especially in Elgar and Mahler’s Lieder, an important Schubert’s interpreter, and very impressive in French Melodies (though, Phucphan, my close music-friend, don’t want to listen her in French music, Poor him!). She has a wide range, with over 2.5 octaves, amazing bright top Gs, As, and full, warm in low range for contralto part. Her dictions is not bad, even it’s very clear in German. She has a wide repertoire with many major and minor roles in opera, oratorio from Baroque, Mozart, Belcanto to some modern composer’s work, and was acclaimed in all major theartre, opera house in the world, especialy in Royal Convent Garden Opera, the famous Opera in her homecountry. Can’t be doubtful that she was one of the most talents in world of opera and chamber music.

If only she has all of these things, I won’t love her like that. The first time I hear her singing was an album in the series “Grandi Voci” of Decca labels which presents many good thing from hers in Bach, Purcell, Ravel’s work though it not include some popular pieces. You can say that, it’s not really impressed, a little “cold” and “simple” (like the feeling with the first time with soprano Gundula Janowizt), but it make you to play back again and again. It’s make u curious and want to discovery the simple beauty of her voice. And then, with some performance in opera of Haendel, Donizetti,… art songs of Elgar, lieder by Schubert, Malers, Schoenberg,… and many recitals , I gradually enchanted by her. I can discribe her voice and personality in 3 words: Thoughtful, Peaceful and Temperate. I find more warmness, and sentiment in her voice but it never have a depressed, wretched or painful felling even in some dark, deathly works of Mahler. With me, she’s really a true great artist in art songs, on high rank with E. Schwarzkopf, D.Fischer-dieskau, Kathleen ferrier, De los angeles, or F.Wunderlich.

I know that, its very difficult to describe the fellings, the emotions in the strange language, I only can say that, Janet Baker is one of my most favourite artist, and she’s also one of a few mezzos, whom I want to introduce if you like or want to discovery the classical singing. You can find more info and biogarphy about her in wiki, many CDs, DVDs in music shop, or some great moments of her in youtube. I think you should try! High recommend from me!



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